It’s all fruit: Traditional versus Self Publication

Good Day, lovelies! Since I mentioned the aforementioned title in my previous post, I thought I would proceed with my thoughts on why I chose self publication over traditional. For the newbs out there who are interested in the joys of writing; apples or oranges, it really is all fruit. what I mean is both paths are going to take a great deal of work on your behalf. There is no easy path.

Be prepared for the awful misconceptions out there. First, you are a writer the very day that you start gliding that pen across paper or tapping away at that keyboard. The instant you step into the world inside your head and transcribe it for the rest of us to see, you are a f*cking writer. DO NOT let anyone tell you otherwise. Being established does not mean that you have to have a book ready to purchase in order to gain the title. You are what you have always been. Own it!

Second, you do not have to be traditionally published in order for you to have validity or credibility as an author. Thanks to technology, we now have the opportunity to have our works published faster, and the ability to reach more readers in a matter of minutes.

Okay. Now that we’ve cleared that up… On with the show.

Like many Indie Authors, I hungrily researched others down their paths to publication and beyond. I read articles, watch videos, read books, et cetera. I have weighed the pros and cons and went full speed at self publication. The biggest reason? I wanted complete control over my manuscript and creative rights. Now, that’s not to say that when you traditionally publish, you don’t have a say-so in anything. That isn’t true. But, like with most things, your publishing house is investing in your work and like all investors, they want to have their hand at steering the ship. My story was 20 years in the making and I would be having none of that, sir.

The positive side to traditional publishing, though, is that you have someone else putting in the time and money on the finished product. Someone else does the marketing for you. They setup interviews, book signings, book conventions, and anything else that promotes your book. But you do have to do some dirty work yourself. Writing query letters and sending out your manuscript, your baby, to people who know nothing about you or has any care on how hard you worked to make it just right. You have to be able to deal with criticisms and rejections.

Alternately, with self publication, a ll of that time, effort, and money is coming from you. If you’re someone like me, money isn’t easy to come by and this stuff is not cheap at all. Thank goodness for CreateSpace, as I would still be scratching my head on how to get Charlee out on the shelf. When you’re outsourcing the services (as you should) like editing or cover art, it all adds up. You’re employing someone and you have to pay for their time. By the way, I love my cover artist, Lyn at LV Book Design.

#shamelessplug #loveplug

Here are two ladies that I follow on YouTube religiously. These are collaboration videos with these two routes.

 

 

 

 

 

Publishing a book is not just an art, it’s a business. No joke… Tax forms and everything. You learn it very quickly and I won’t lie, it is a tad bit discouraging at first. Don’t let it stop you from pushing that book baby from your literary vagina brain and sharing it with the rest of us. Go ahead. gestate that novel, post pics of it online like it’s the best thing you’ve ever done with your life (because it probably is), you stand atop that author platform you’ve built, holding up your pure paper creation by the spine, and make us roll our eyes at you wallowing in your accomplishment and smile with pride!

So, you want to be a writer…

Hey! So, you want to be a writer! Fantastic! Go you, you Wordy-Wordsmith-Wendy, you! Not only are you talented in the art of typing or jiggling a stick around on a piece of paper, but you create elaborate pictures in someone’s mind and take them on amazing, heart-wrenching adventures! Hooray for no commercials! You and the Thesaurus are in a long-term, heavily involved relationship and everyone knows it. Congratulations!

But hold up, you hopeless romantic day-dreamer! Sure, you have fallen in love with a writing career and have often fantasize being stuck in a mahogany study, filled with walls of your favorite authors (and maybe a few of your own pieces on display). Possibly including an antique type writer, a bubble pipe, tweed coat, and horn-rimmed glasses to profoundly state your chosen profession. Nerd <3! I’m sure that novel is going to be a best seller one day, but to obtain things of this magnitude, have you thought about all the logistics? Have you thought about the hard work, long hours, and what it will take to force yourself to write every day, even when you’re eyes start to cross at 6,000 words? Editing can be a rough process. Can you do it yourself, or are you emotionally stable enough to pay someone else to critique you? Be honest. Do you know what genre you’re aiming for? Do you know what a beta reader is? What about your marketing skills?

The truth is: The writing is probably the easiest part. Especially if writing is a natural talent for you. It won’t be easy if you’re an introvert. You’ll have to learn how to market not just your work, but yourself as an author. Unfortunately, it’s all a business. You have to sell your art to people. Even if you only ever dream to just write purely for the  entertainment of others. If you wish to publish, you have to determine if you and your work should go through traditional publishing, or self publish. Either way, you’re going to suffer through a lot of rejection, criticism, and disappointment. Be prepared, my darlings.

All of those things only make you a better writer, though. Never take critiques personally. Accept and build upon them to make your work better; to make you better at what you love to do. No one ever writes their first piece and have it fly off the shelves the instant it prints on a page. You will struggle, and you will need to keep your expectations low.

Do not let this discourage you. EVER. I will promise you this: When you receive your first amazing review from a complete stranger, you will instantly feel that validation high. And you will want to keep striving. It will be a glorious rainbow built on coffee, lack of sleep, stress, and your fantasmical talent. It is totally worth every single bit.

Keep going. Strive on, you nerdiful pencil artists. Happy New Year! XO

Short: Please Send Money (rough)

Other writers and I know that inspiration can come from the smallest of things. A bird picking at a flat object in a hot, summer department store parking lot. A tree branch falling from a tall oak on a woodsy walk. A raven rapping at a window sill. Or a random pop-up Facebook message from someone you’ve never met. All of these things could be the flint to the fire that is a story idea. I’ll admit that those first few infant moments of a story are almost like the high we were looking for as addicts. It’s a rush, it’s exciting, and our minds almost can’t keep up with the powers that be who whisper their magic into our ears.

This is my most recent.

“Shit!” Benjamin harshly whispered to himself after a sip from the large, white coffee cup. A tongue scalding was just another thing that had went wrong that morning. His big toe still throbbed inside his sneaker from a moving box housing heavy kitchen supplies. And his heart was still heavy after reading the, “I’m coming to get the rest of my things,” text from Melody; the now ex-girlfriend.

He’d left the apartment in an effort to give her the space she’d requested. Some part of him still hoped that she would get her fresh air and return as the happy, comedic, and beautiful Melody he loved. He still loves. He also didn’t think he could face her without breaking down and making a foolish plea for her to stay. He knew he was the problem. He was clingy, he was insecure, he was jealous. She… She was Melody. The love of his life. Perfect in every way.

Staring at the rippling steam from the tar black coffee, he scanned his memory (as he has done many times) for any hint for the beginning of the end. Still, nothing stood out. Glancing around the shop, he watched as people spoke softly to each other, or stared at their phones. Mostly their phones. Even tables filled with three or four ignored each other’s company, seeking connections through a computer application. He, himself had his own piece of black rectangle made of metal and glass clutched in his knotty knuckles. How dependent we’ve become, he thought while catching a glimpse of his reflection.

He clicked the protruding button and stared longingly at Melody’s once loving gaze to the eye of his camera. Swiping to the right, he re-read their last messages to each other. So stiff, so formal, as if they were only acquainted professionals performing contractual business with one another. A virtual handshake once the deal had been struck, and she would leave the key next to the cerami rooster bought from the farmer’s market.

“Active 45 minutes ago.” The white lettering almost burned through his retinas. She was there. Perhaps with help, perhaps already sliding the key across the counter to the talons of the rooster.

As he tapped to enable his keyboard, a bubble popped up of an incoming message. The small, circular icon previewed a young girl, maybe a few years younger than him, caught in a moment looking over her folded knees to a sunset. The large hat she adorned hid most of her face, except a very intimate part of her profile. Her skin the color of brown sugar and stretched tightly around her small frame. She was no one Benjamin recognized and on any normal day, he would have just ignored it, but he was lonely and wallowing in self-pity. Like all the others huddled up to their coffee, he longed for a connection. Even a virtual one.

He pressed his thumb against her picture and read the first message, “Hey there cutie!”

“Hello. I’m sorry, but do I know you?” The letters clicked softly followed by the familiar swishing noise as he pressed send.

“I’m sorry no you don’t but I would like to know you. I really like your profile picture and you’re close by! How are you today?”

Benjamin hesitated. His profile picture was an obscure landscape that included half of his body. Maybe that was what she liked about it. She has to be spam, or a bot, or something, he thought while furrowing his brow and scanning her words again and again.

“I’m a little miserable today, to be honest.”

“I’m sorry dear. What’s wrong? Also, my name is Lisa.”

Her punctuation wasn’t great, but she also didn’t shorten her words. Benjamin was intrigued. The world wide web was saturated with all kinds of predators looking to thieve any part of your life. Maybe she’s actually real?

He found her profile restricted, but some of her information was visible. She was right, she was close by. At least according to where her location was listed. Just a couple of towns a way. A short drive for anyone.

What the hell. It’ll take my mind off Melody, even for a brief moment. That thought made his stomach tighten with guilt.

“Are you there?” Lisa typed with a smiley face.

“How did you find me?” Benjamin was still skeptical, but quietly laughed. Random messages like this used to be a normal occurrence when social media first had it’s startup in the early 2000’s. You looked around the world, you found people and connected with them even if you didn’t know who the hell they were. That was the exciting thing about it. In the blink of an eye, we were all connected and wanted to be connected. Somewhere along the lines, the bad intentions and news scares came out and any sane person became reclusive about accepting random friendship requests.

“I am new in town and was trying to make new friends. You were sHowing as onlinE and I Liked your Pic.” The pen icon came back up as she continued to write. “I’ve Been here A while and still haven’t maDe friends. I aM gEtting loNely haha! What is Wrong by the way? You never saId and i wouLd LiKe to help If you wiLL let ME.”

Benjamin’s face curled in slight disgust. It seems her grammar and punctuation have become progressively worse.

“You aren’t real, are you? Are you a bot? Someone who’s scamming for money?” He became agitated and secretly dared her for a response. Some part of him sought a confession purely for the satisfaction of being right. He couldn’t recall the last time he was right.

The pen shows up after quite some time. “PLEASE don’t tHink of mE that way. Like I said your Profile said you were close by. I don’t USually do this kind of stuff! If you just send me some gas money, we can meet in person.”

Angrily, Benjamin wrote, “I KNEW IT!” He then selected to block any further messages from “Lisa.” He was upset with himself for even replying to her in the first place.

He sat his phone on the table and slid a folded elbow under his head. This day keeps getting better.


Lisa fervently tapped the dirty keys of the old laptop, but Benjamin was no longer replying. She put her fingertips in her mouth, soothing her bloodied and ripped nails. Hot tears poured down her dirty face as she closed the lids to her blue eyes.

“You didn’t get him to send money?!” Yelled the voice behind the gun barrel currently shoved at the base of her scalp.

“P-Please! Just let me try again!”

“No more tries for you, pretty little bitch! That was your last time!” The voice gripped her matted blond hair and pulled her to her bare feet, bound at the ankles by thick zip-ties.

Lisa begged but her words were indiscernible. Her body shivered in fear and for warmth from the cold, damp place she and the other kidnapped girls were trapped. A large, warm hand clamped her trembling lips and her tears continued to pour.

All the other girls at the other stations turned to face her as the voice called out, “You don’t make me money, you won’t get to go home! You don’t make me money, you are a waste of my time!”

The gun barrel pushed into Lisa’s temple and with a flash of light, Lisa’s blood splattered onto the closest victim, and her body toppled to the dirty concrete. No one screamed.

Thirst: A recurring, passing thought

I greeted you warmly with my hand against your cheek while we stood in the snow. If only I could have told you how excited I was, how my stomach was in knots and my heart attempted to climb its way out of my throat. The night was almost like day; the coldness so bright while bathing in the moon’s light. We stood quietly alone, secretly admiring one another and listening to the song of Winter’s loneliness. I could feel your presence vibrating like you were more than a passing thought. More than a lovely daydream. I resisted the urge to wrap my arms around you, to finally feel your warmth against me, to reach for your kiss. I resisted because no matter what my dream deluded, it wasn’t the real you. Even if the snow were to melt, if the moon traded places with the sun, it isn’t you. All that I was left with–that is, all that I would allow–was a simple, “Hi, Joe,” while my hand cupped your smile.

 

Don’t mind me…

He cupped his slippery entrails with the tail of his shirt like he’d just plucked a few apples in the orchard. Body fluids seeping through, leaving droplets stained upon his jeans. He knew he wouldn’t make it, but he had to try.

Funny how much you want to live just before you die.

Brief Story: Jumper

All of my recent shorts have been story ideas. This one is no different, except that I came up with it quite some time ago. It’s inspired by a personal event that I previously mentioned in my “Religion” blog. I have undergone a lot of personal and spiritual changes in the past few years. It’s been so dramatic that I am often in awe of it. Whenever I finish the BT series, I think I will probably follow through with this story line. I feel it is different than what you’ve read and I’m hoping to show my versatility when it comes to the different genres of writing.

Of all the places I am damned to roam, this is one of my favorites. For some reason, people flock to the pier in all kinds of different situations. Fishing, first dates, marriage proposals, and sometimes break-ups. I think it has something to do with the energy of the water. The very life source all creatures rely on and the one element they’re drawn to the most.

I like to watch here. It is the easiest place to detect emotion. The very thing I am cursed to feel and these very acts I am no longer allowed to personally experience. For I am a Jumper.

Jumpers are souls who remained heartless in their living life and are now condemned in the After. There is no fire and brimstone, just the torment of emotions never belonging to you. No one will understand the loneliness of that hallow shell. The brief, blissful moment of pure, vibrating joy and the ever daunting realization that it will never, ever be yours. Ever again.

Jumping is involuntary. Imagine being a bird a midst an oncoming rainstorm. Sudden bursts of wind blind siding you into a different direction. I am pushed; stumbling into a living being, hearing their deepest, momentary thoughts and their most heart-felt feelings. My soul becomes one with theirs and for that slight interaction, I am human again. An addictive punishment.

Such gloomy, stormy days like these leave the seagulls screaming as they glide above the pier. Patrons are strolling on their lunch breaks, enjoying their warm drinks and recharging with the surging rough waves. The rain has yet to begin and I wait on the bench beside a sleeping, intoxicated, heavily bearded homeless man. I like to think I protect the homeless now. I feel the most pity for them and they are the easiest to Jump. I was not kind to anything homeless in my Living and I felt the need to repent now in the After

No one can see Jumpers in the After, just like any ghost story will tell you. Not even the most spiritual of people can detect a Jumper. Therein lies another punishment.

My stomach knots suddenly and I feel my soul being suctioned away from the bench. I look toward the beard of the man and close my eyes tightly, only opening to them to be still looking at him from a different angle.

Through my heavily aged eyes, I feel compassion. A sense of familiarity and reminiscent, I have been in this man’s shoes. I look towards the darkening skies and can smell the salt water intensify. It will rain soon. A wrinkled, blood spotted hand reached and heavily shook the man’s shoulder. The burst of whiskey and earth made my compassion grow as I remembered my days under freeway bridges.

“Hello, sir,” the man’s eyes widened at my mannerisms, “So sorry to disturb you. It’s going to rain soon and since it’s extremely chilly, I was hoping you would like to join me for some warm food and good company?”

As lightning flickered off in the distance, I found myself covered in hair and staring back at an older gentleman in an olive raincoat. His pale blue eyes reflected his sincerity and my heart filled with excitement, curiosity, and some skepticism.

A gush of wind caused me to shiver. The old man smiled and said, “We’ll get you some warmer clothes. What do you say?”

I gratefully obliged, taking his helping, feeble hand.

My soul remained there on the once occupied bench and I watched the unpredictable pair wander off the wood slats and up to a nearby diner. If I could release any tears, this would be a beautiful moment. Compassion was my horrendous reminder. Something I lacked in the Living was now my most addictive emotion in the After. I never knew what it felt like to receive it, nor what it meant to give it. I was too stubborn and too ignorant.

The pier was quickly clearing, but I was only waiting for the rain. The cool, variable droplets splashing against my bare skin was a sensation I also missed. It wasn’t long before the darkened spots flushed the weathered wood, hammering like a machine gun to a tin roof.

I closed my eyes and tried to imagine catching a puddle in my…

I can’t keep going on like this. They all think I’m crazy! Maybe I am. Maybe I am just as worthless as they say.

I opened my eyes, peering into my dainty hands. I picked at my fading nail polish and stared intently at the small promise ring. I’ve been spinning it so much that the skin it rested against was an angry red. I crossed my feet under the bench and felt my sun dress become pinned in between a set of slats.

Pure dread was poisoning my chest and I wanted so much to rip out my aching heart. I didn’t want to feel anymore.

I just want to be numb. I want to be empty so that they can’t hurt me anymore. What would the church say? I don’t want to go to hell, but they’ll condemn me there anyway. What about my parents? Oh Lord, I fear their disappointment! 

Tears warmed my cheeks from the cold rain I was drowning in. My body shivered and the pier vibrated from the crashing waves below.

My clothes were now sticking to my body, Won’t make a difference anyhow. It will be over soon. 

A calming relief fell over me. I stood and adjusted my pink floral skirt while taking a deep breath. My dress shoes filled with tiny puddles as I slowly made my way toward the end of the pier. Adrenaline quivered in my veins and I found myself incredibly conflicted. I could feel my legs pull as my body was resisting. But my heart insisted. It knew it couldn’t survive the torment or the judgement of those people. Fear, hope, sorrow all occupied my mind in an entangled battle. Only one will prevail by the time I reached the splintered rail.

Just as a gush from a wave floated up and sprayed my thighs, I closed my eyes… and I jumped…

“Abigail! Don’t!” I was halfway down the pier, calling after the most amazing girl I had ever known. I was empowered by a deep love and impending fear. The rain pelted against my tan skin as if the sea was trying to push me back.

You can’t do this Abi! Don’t leave me subject to the cruelty to those monsters! 

I watched as her stiffened dress allowed her freckled body to turn to me. The frightened look upon her face pierced my entirety and I pushed harder against the slippery wood. My throat grew dry and my heart beat heavily against it.

I reached her just in time to grapple her forearm, “Abi, don’t do this! Don’t leave me! I can’t do this without you!”

A curious glare slipped onto her face and I could feel the familiar suction. I wished it to stop! I wanted to save her.

Don’t let her die!

I saw my own arm separate from my host and I reached for her face. I wanted to caress it and reassure her that this was not what she wanted. She wanted to live, I felt it in her soul . She wants to live, to love and love freely.

Fear and anger wrinkled her forehead as she looked to my hand, “Let go of me… Jumper.”

My soul immediately leaped back into my host. Just then, A strong wave crashed into the edge of the pier, rattling it’s entire stance. It was enough for me to stretch my feet and steady myself, but also enough for the puddles in Abigail’s shoes to release her feet from the rail. Tumbling backward, her grip released and her arm slipped through my fingers.

Abigail didn’t scream and neither did I. I was too fixated on her comforting stare. She saw what I was. She could see me.

So, after her, I jumped.

How’s the stew?

Here’s a little sequel of “Tea or Lemonade.” I just couldn’t help myself. The following video helped with inspiration and I think you’ll find it quite fitting.

“Goodness, Papa! This here stew’s real good!” Exclaimed my dirt-covered little boy while scooping up more broth in an over sized spoon.

“See? I told ya your mama’s veggies would be good this year.”

I smiled as he nodded and took a large bite of a cooked onion and chewed a cube of beef. He quickly swallowed and commented, “I sure wish she was still around so she could eat with us.”

My throat had tightened at his words and it became difficult to swallow. I still ached for her even though she had to be punished. I wish she could have seen her garden this year. No matter what, she will always be a part of it now.

I sometimes wish I didn’t catch her out in that barn, bent over the corn crib. Some day, I will find the man who was thudding her hips against the wood, defiling her and the sanctity of our marriage. If only my aim had been better in the dark, I would have pinned him to the barn post instead of slicing his shoulder with my hunting knife.

I love my wife, even in that moment of finding her loving another man. Even afterward, while she sat with her head in her hands, her tears flowing through the cracks of her fingers, I lovingly poured her a shot of bourbon and stirred in a bit of ground almond.

And while she clutched her swollen throat, she still reached for me to save her. So I did. I tackled her to the floor and softly pressed against her neck. I wiped the tears from her eyes as she turned blue and I whispered, “I love you with everything inside me, but you don’t love me enough. I can’t let anyone else have you.”

I cried when I carried her back to the barn, cradling her just as I had when we entered the threshold of our home for the first time. As the heat left the cheek pressed against my chest, I hummed to her softly while brushing her ruffled hair. I turned her face away as I laid her body down on a black, wool riding blanket. I couldn’t let her see me. I wanted to spare her the decency.

After some time and a now dull saw blade, I gathered  up the pieces and tied the blanket together with rope. My wife was now in shambles just like my heart.

Admiring my work, I wiped the blood filled sweat from my neck and quickly decided where to hide her. It wasn’t quite Winter, but the pond would be cool enough to keep her from decomposing too much. As I watched the pack slowly sink, I said my final goodbye and haven’t cried since.

By the time the top layer of ice thawed in the Spring, I fished her out and threw her in with the pig slop. They must’ve felt like royalty with such a bountiful feast!

All I had to do was clean the pen and I had spectacular fertilizer. Just as my son said, the garden came in really good this year. The vegetables flourished and we even had plenty to share with my brother.

I shook myself from my thoughts just as a knock came at the door. In walked the belly of my young and pregnant sister-in-law followed by my exuberant brother.

“Well, hell, c’mon in! Yer just in time for some supper!”

She eased herself in my wife’s chair and ruffled my son’s hair. He smiled at her and continued his focus to the contents in his bowl.

“That must be some good eatin’ there, kiddo,” said my brother as he sat, opposite of me.

I immediately stood and fetched them each a bowl with a helping of cornbread and a glass of tea. I hadn’t quite mastered my wife’s tea, yet, but no one ever complained.

“Have you heard anything about Maggie?” My brother inquired. He always asked about her and I can see his concern was for my son.

I shook my head and tried to negate the conversation, “Eat up.”

I proudly watched as he leaned down and scooped the cornbread into the mud colored broth. His shirt collar folded slightly over his muscular shoulder as he brought his food to his mouth. Just enough to reveal a large, light pink scar. A scar that healed nicely over a large cut. Right in the spot… where I threw my knife.

I stared intensely, gripping on to my spoon and whitening my knuckles. He must’ve felt the heat of my glare as he cleared his throat and adjusted the fabric. As he turned to me with a chewing smile, I rapidly blinked away my fury.

I made a glance at my brother’s wife and back to the man who forced me to murder mine, “How’s the stew?”